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Archive for August, 2014

Angel Lite commission

commissions

An Angel Lite commission. From “the ballad” Two more Duncans

Bad Bob Duncan the toughest member of the gang. Also maybe the strongest

bob

Mad Mert Duncan former Marshall now turned Space Pirate and works for the Meddler and taught Luciano how to and helped turn him evil

mert

 

 


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In Defense of Alien Resurrection

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1Wow. There sure are a lot of Sci-Fi films showing up here. I think I expected to be writing about more horror and superhero than sci-fi. interesting.

I really like Alien 4. There will never be another film as good as Alien or Aliens, but as far as sequals go, this is a good one. Perhaps part of the reason I like it so much is because it wipes the slate clean, it cleanses the pallet from the prior film. You see, I hate Alien 3.

I once heard someone say that if you really like a character in a horror movie – especially one who survives, then you shouldn’t ever watch the sequal, because something horrible will happen to them.  Alien 3 gives us this in spades, killing off EVERYBODY. It renders that rousing escape in Aliens practically pointless. Newt and Hicks don’t even get an on screen death. It’s horrible and it taints the entire movie for me. I hated the dog alien too. The rod puppet just didn’t work nearly as well for me as the puppets and suits Cameron used. I realize this is David Fincher’s directorial debut and there are a few good beats, but it’s riddled with stupid things like killing off beloved characters and getting Ripley laid because as the producers put it “It was about time she had a man.” 6

What really burns is that there were far better sequals avalible. Check out the novels (or graphic novel adaptions) of Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum and earth War (or Female War). This is a far more satisfying follow up to Aliens and actually can fit in nicely between Aliens and Resurrection.

That’s one of the things I really liked about Resurrection. It wipes the slate clean. It’s a fresh start, without really trying to connect itself as firmly to the previous sequals as 3 did.

One of the big complaints I hear about this film is what they did to Ripley. She doesn’t act like Ripley, she doesn’t feel like Ripley.

2That’s the entire point. She isn’t.

This is a clone grown from Ellen Ripley’s DNA, with perhaps a race memory. A few actual seeming memories surface from time to time as well, the cloning process is strange and imperfect, but make no mistake; this is NOT supposed to be Ripley. The characters call her that, and she has Ripley’s face (to appease a studio that wasn’t certain you could make an Alien movie without Sigorney Weaver) but she has a radically different set of memories of growing up. She’s really not even quite a mature adult.  In fact….she’s not actually human. That Alien DNA infects her.

Sigorney Weaver did some amazing things as this clone character. She got it. She plays it with hesitation, confusion and an animal bubbling just under the surface. Her character is conflicted, confused and actually more aggressive than Ripley ever was. It’s best represented in the final line of the film where they descend to Earth and she says “I’m a stranger here myself.”

3Trust me, you’ll like this character a whole lot more if your remember this. She’s not Ripley. In fact, this was one of the things I was happiest about. I was tired of Ripley. I can deal with her running into these things once….hunting them down the second time, but Aliens isn’t ABOUT Ripley and I was ready to move on. I’m glad this did. In fact it brought a great new cast of characters for us to move on with.

This is another sore point with some people though. In a lot of ways, you can see the template for Firefly here. Joss Whedon has said as much, and he has complained that the direction was completely opposite to the tone of his script. There are a lot of people who think Whedon can do no wrong. They hate this 5move because he says to hate it.

I’m not one of those people. I Like his work, but find him completely capable of missteps. Moreover, I’m a fan of Alien. I want this to be an Alien film, not a Whedon film.  It doesn’t need his quirky sense of humor. It doesn’t really need his distinct touches, this has always been an industrial, slightly dystopian future. It’s scary. Not cute scary, but rather dirty scary. I like the story he came up with. I prefer Renaut’s directorial vision. If a Whedon movie is all you are after, then I understand your dismay at what has been described as a kind of bastardization of tone from Whedon’s vision. Then again, movies are always more about the directors vision as opposed to TV which is all about the writer’s ideas (remember that difference we talked about a couple of months ago in Star Trek 5!). To everyone else, I simply suggest going into this as an expanded universe Aliens film. 4

It really does have that almost comic book expanded universe feel to it. Winona Ryder’s character in particular feels that way to me. It’s a well done character wit ha back story I really enjoy. It fits well in the Aliens world ….and I’m not usually one of her fans. In a lot of ways, she tries to take the place of Ellen Ripley, though she comes off as a little too young (I know she’s not, but she sure feels that way) and impetuous. Ron Pearlman (who in fact, really CAN’T do wrong) is his usually excellent self and I love seeing Michael Wincott and Brad Dorff chew the scenery.

It holds up a little better these days due to the disdain the AVP films get. Check it out again with some fresh eyes, and while you’re at it, try and track down those novels to see how different the Aliens universe can be without Alien 3 and Ellen Ripley.


Peter Capauldi (Spoilers. Just move on if you have to)

6487210-low_res-I’m just not sure what to think.  I wonder if that’s a bad thing?

It seems like I was just doing this, reviewing a new Doctor in a new season of Doctor Who. There’s not doubt, I bought it. I totally accept Capaldi as the new  Doctor. This is a good thing because it took a full year or so for me to accept Matt Smith in the role – and that was weird. Smith really always felt like he was a kid in a costume playing at the role until that big speech in “The Pandorica Opens”. It was there for the first time I could actually see the Doctor in him. It got better as time went on, particularly in the last year or so we could really see the ancient being in the young body. The old man with a youth’s face.

With Capaldi it’s instant. He feels like the Doctor. He’s confidant in the role, even as he tries to make us wonder what kind of person he is. This is a tactic that was already tried with both Colin Baker and Paul McGann, and it didn’t really work for me either time.10462933_779076368803455_7055546326964120705_n It almost seems like they are trying a little TOO hard to make you distrust Capaldi by making him abandon Clara. Twice.  Sorry, but there’s better ways to distinguish this incarnation from the others and better story devices to make him edgy. Nice pointing out how dynamic his eyebrows are though.

I’ve been optimistic in the year we’ve spent waiting for this. I mostly liked the costume, enjoying the similarities that his look has to my favorite Jon Pertwee. So much so, that I really kept watching for a similar persona. I saw a LOT of Pertwee influence in the Russell T Davies era, not quite as much in the Moffat era but enough that it’s still there and I’ve always loved it. Capaldi seemed to be heading that was as well from the buzz, but I actually don’t see it in the actual episode.

I kind of wish he had something on his neck too.

Honestly, I know, it seems like I’m never pleased and I’m overanalyzing – it’s Sci-Fi. That’s what we DO. But seriously, as much as Matt Smith’s bow ties bugged me (until he started wearing a vest. THAT costume, I loved), the buttoned up collar feels empty to me. I would have loved it back in 1992 when that was a common look, but not so much in 2014.  I hope it’s not going to be one of those little bothersome details that just drives me NUTS.  It’s made even more frustrating 974e2fbffa234f78cf5ef869db81c72ebecause of how GREAT Capaldi looked in that high necked collar and tie. Seriously, If I were a girl, I’d be swooning. I still might.

I hope the disguises become a part of this Doctor’s shtick. It was a great bit of business, and one of the things we really saw in this story was how well Capaldi does different modes of dress.

As for the story, first episodes are frequently a bit weak. I really like “Castrovalva” and “Robot”. I want to like “Spearhead from Space” and “Time and the Rani”. At least I can sit through  those. “The Twin Dilemma”, “The Christmas Invasion” and the movie are just plain hard to watch. This story was surprisingly average, surprising considering it has a Dionasuar bursting into flames and steampunk robots…then again, steampunk doesn’t really do anything for me.  The tenuious connection to the Madam De Pompadour felt a little to shoehorned in and would perhaps have been better served later in the season. I like the intrigue they are setting up, calling back to the Bells of St. John and connecting it to someone keeping Clara and the Doctor together.

The constant references to Madame Vastra and Jenny being married annoy me. It was like someone was determined to clobber you over the head with it. RTD was always very in-your-face with homosexuality, and 4fddac9a3e4f1ae01f68308936679d62always felt like he was driving an agenda. Moffet has generally been far more subtle. The subtext between Vastra and Jenny has always been there. You could revel in it if you so choose (much like my friend Don does) or you could just ignore it (much like I always did). Repeating “We’re MARRIED” four or five times over the course of one episode was unnecessary and if you consider it, a little insulting. Respect your audience and trust them to pick up on the subtext. There’s no need to be this dramatic.

The final thing that rather bothered me was Matt Smith’s appearance. I suppose I kind of get it; Moffat is appealing to the teeny boppers and fangirls who latched on to the show when they started casting pretty boys in the role of t he doctor instead of middle aged men with character in their faces.  I personally have been waiting for them to go older wit the Doctor again for  the longest time and if you truly GET the show, it’s a non-issue old or young.  It was an interesting way of speaking directly to that demographic. It also feels a little desperate. Like someone wasn’t confidant in the show continuing even as it moves closer to it’s roots.  I don’t like that, it sends the wrong message.

It’s a little more than that though as well. Dramatically, it’s….I don’t know…disingenuous? Stephen Moffat, through Matt Smith’s Doctor criticized David Tennants Doctor for being narcissistic and having issues referring to his half regeneration (keeping the face) and in a more meta sense, criticizing the lengthy and dramatic goodbye that Tennant had. But watching Matt Smith call Clara from Trensalore felt much like the Bvv6T_eIIAEpdKqsame kind of thing – a lingering goodbye. And extended swan song. It’s the second time we’ve bid him farewell, and it almost feels to me like he’s milking it. Yet at the same time, it’s a shocking scene. My jaw dropped and my heart plunged. The story EARNS that scene.

At the end of the day, I’m obviously going on and on about the trivial, and talking very little about Capaldi himself. Indeed, more than half the pictures in t his article are of other Doctors. It all comes back to my opening salvo; I just don’t know what to think.  I don’t instantly dislike Capaldi the way I did with Matt Smith. I don’t instantly love him the way I did with David Tennant. I’m hesitant, nervous. I’m still waiting to see where this is going to go.

For now, I’m going to hang on, and follow the eyebrows.

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The Adventures of Mr. Kidzpointe part eight

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Part eight of The Adventures of Mr. Kidzpointe! Possibly the most beloved episode of the series. I wish I could take credit for the song, but that was actually written in the script we were using. The quick shot of Julie Andrews by the way, comes from an episode of the Muppet show. It’s during the end credits and is cropped so you only see her!

And don’t forget, new Violent Blue tomorrow!


Tales From Beyond

forgotten bannerMV5BMTM0NjcxMjc4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDM5MjQyMQ@@__V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_I totally bought this out of a two dollar box at Cinema Wasteland because I saw Adam West on the cover. IMDB dosen’t tell us much about it though  –

Tales From Beyond   2004

When a trendy young couple enter a quaint-looking antiquarian bookstore seeking a present for their friend, they find more than they bargained for. A mysterious shopkeeper takes them into the world of his books, leading them through four amazing stories.

The DVD cover doesn’t tell us much more than that either really. It looks like horror, but it’s really more Sci-Fi. You do know going in that it’s an anthology (which I usually don’t really dig) but it ended up being far better than I expected.  The middle sections with West as the shopkeeper  presenting the books (the stories of the movie) to his customers are fun.  a little underacted, but passable. The stories themselves have a wonderful Twilight Zone quality to them. If it weren’t for some of the language, I’d swear I was watching one of the modern versions.

I think of the selections the time travel story in the diner is my favorite, very similar to Nightmare Cafe (a TV series that lasted about five minuets before it was cancelled, but boy did I love it.)

The shame is that it falls apart at the end. We see two new books write themselves – obviously the customer’s stories. That’s fine. I can get behind that, it’s when we get taken to the back of the shop, past the books into some wierd cryotube where the “stories” I guess are kept…I’m not sure what that was supposed to be or what they were thinking.

It’s still worth a watch and I suspect you can find it relatively cheap in dump bins or movie conventions.  Definitely take a look for this stuff. It’s worth a watch or two.


In Defense of X-Men Origins : Wolverine

defense

1This is actually a hard Colum to write. The rules are it has to be about a property (mostly movies, but comics and music are fair game too) that everyone in general hates and that conventional wisdom tells us is bad, but that I like. And I mean LIKE. Not just a “meh…that’s not really THAT bad a movie….”

Here’s how I can  tell that Wolverine isn’t a bad movie. I like it – and I don’t like ANY of the X-Men movies. The second one is  the only one I might ever bother to rewatch besides this one (and the way Wolverine cuts through those soldiers in the mansion really bothers me). I actually change the channel if any of these movies come on broadcast TV.

I read the comics, but let’s face it, the cinematic X universe bears little more than a passing resemblance to the comics. That’s actually a good thing too, because I can’t stand Wolverine in the comics. Hugh Jackman however, actually makes me care about the character. he makes me like him. The first three X-Movies are really just all about Wolvie, so why not finally admit it and put his name on the shingle?

The action is good here. It’s a lot of CG, 3but we’ve come to expect that from X-Movies. Wolverine broods a bit, but I think it actually fits the character. I’m hearing a lot of complaing on that same subject for the Days of Future Past film as well, but if you genuinely know the character, you’ll realize he’s more than a hack ’em up brute. It’s a role Jackman plays extraordinarily well.

The lack of continuity with Sabertooth has bugged some people. I get that. I really wish it were Tyler Man again, or that this guy had played him in the first film. It would have helped my suspension of disbelief. However, Sabertooth isn’t just a brute either. In the mid 90’s there was some real development of the character, imprisoned in the mansion and while they were attempting to rehabilitate him, he was 2playing mind games with the crew. There’s aspecial hatred between him and Gambit. It’s a shame that actually never played itself out on screen here. It’s a missed opprutunity, but then again, perhaps one that would have made the plot look too crowded to casual fans.

Gambit by the way, it perfectly realized here. I’m a fan of the character and loved the portrayal in this film. My only complaint is that he’s underused. That’s been the excuse for three previous films as to why they never brought him in by the way – they felt they wouldn’t have a big enough role for him. After waiting so long though, it was good to finally see Remy LeBeau realized on screen.

6Which brings me to the big sticking point for a lot of people.

Deadpool.

For all you haters out there….I’ll give you this one. What they did with deadpol was a real waste. It smacks of studio interference by a group of people who just don’t understand the character. A shame too, because before his transformation into the bizarre weapon X without a mouth. Ryan Reynolds actually does a nice job as Wade Wilson. If anything, it’s a bit underplayed.

Here’s why it didn’t ruin the movie for me. I barely knew ANYTHING abut Deadpool when this came out. He’d shown up in X-Force as a fairly generic Vanilla character and I was completely unfamiliar with the more loony 4characterization he’d grown into (and thanks to Jesse Vining who re-introduced me to the character when I was getting back into Heroclix). I imagine a great deal of the general public was the same way….it was just another bad guy to them. Still, to a fan, I can see how this could poison the film for you. I have similar feelings about Alien 3 (but more on that next month). The fact that we still haven’t gotten a proper Deadpool feature (especially with that script that’s been floating around) makes it even more of a slap in the face.  In this case, I’m genuinely asking you to set aside that and pretend he’s just a random bad guy. This really is a fun film, and there are too few X-films with this kind of rewatchability to just throw this one aside.


Thank you Dennis Leary

Autographs

I’ve been a fan of Dennis Leary since I was a teenager and too young to be listening to him, but I still had to go with the Spidey background! Thanks Dennis!

dennis


In Memoriam

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So you get two comics today, this one is actually up at the main Violent Blue site today.

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              I only have autographs from the top three actually, but I’m really getting down about actors I’m fond of passing. With Lauren Bacall, I have a wall in my library that is now practically a memorial wall, full of dead celebrities.

A short story about Bacall. My girls have a small picture autographed by both her and Christopher Plummer. it arrived in New York just ahead of the storm a couple years ago. When e got it back, the envelope was shreadded, destroyed and inside another envelope that the post office provided with an apology note from the USPS. The picture was inside undamaged and signed. I’m glad the girls have something from her.


Badger

bestbsdger 83 70issAs far as obscure titles go, this one is a little more mainstream. Badger has been floating around the comics world for a few decades now, every once in a while popping on to the shelves.

Norbert Sykes is a multiple personality disorder, with the main persona being the superhero Badger (who draws his mark on all of Norberts cloths). Badgers not alone in that head of his though, he has 7 multiple personalities, each with their own distinct personalities: Max Swell – a cultured gay man Emily – a nine year old girl Leroy – Norbert’s dog that was shot by Larry when he was ten Pierre – a french psychotic serial killer Alice – a poet Gastineau Grover DePaul – a black man from the southside of Chicago

Badger also talks to the ghost of celebrities such as Warren Oates, Bruce Lee, and John Wayne….to name a few.

He lives with Ham the weather Wizard (an ancient Druid) and his Psychiatrist Daisy and hilarity ensues.

That’s really it. It’s usually madcap superhero action with badger frequently trying to right injustices concerning animals – an old lady who feeds ducks being harassed, or a chef who makes snake bile soup, an cross country race….

The series ended with #70, but several publishers have tried revivals of it;

Dark Horse actually published two miniseries featuring different versions of the Badger’s origin: the four-issue Badger: Shattered Mirror, a “serious” take on the Badger’s origin, and the two-issue Badger: Zen Pop Funny-Animal Version.  I love Jill Thomson’s art in Shattered Mirror, but really, badger was never meant to be a comic this serious. Zen pop on the other hand….it’s funny but it just never seems like they respected the character.

In 1997, Image Comics  gave it a try running 11 issues of a black and white series. It failed to attract much of an audience. The art seemed to cramped and the stark black and white just didn’t suit the character. Finally, in November 2007,IDW  reprinted a series of trade paperbacks of old issues, as well two new Badger stories: a one shot, Badger: Bull, followed by a new mini-series, Badger Saves the World which started in December 2007. Saves the world did nothing for me – it just didn’t feel like Badger, and I never found an issue of Bull.

It’s a shame because this character deserves better, but the old First Comics runs till pop up in discount bins regularly and the reprints are great, and nicely recolored. Try out some of the individual issues first and see if it’s for you, but I highly recommend those trades!


Flashback Weekend 2014

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I attended Flashback Weekend this weekend.

I have to admit, I don’t like this convention. I knew it coming in, but went anyhow for some of the guests. Everything here is just a little more expensive. Unlike every other show i do, you have to pay to park in the hotel lot. The admission is higher than most horror cons. It’s not as well organized and even more than Horrorhound, it just feels like a cash grab. The thing is, they are able to pull in guests that no one else does, at least not regularly. Robert Englund is a regular, though he was sequestered in a side room downstairs. you won’t get access to him without the Englund package  starting at $110.  If you wanted to see him in makeup, you’d have to get he full experience, nearly $400. They did manage to get Angus Scrimm, but didn’t plan for his fanbase. his line stretched down the hall and around the corner. He didn’t show up untill 12, and signed until 3, then had to bail for a panel and a break. Understandable, but it should have been planed for, perhaps specifically posted hours for him signing. Much like they did for Svengoolie.

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The signing hours for Sven seemed a little strange to me. His line was certianlly steady the whole time, 2-4. Sven has been Chicago’s Horror Host for about forty years, with the same kind of staying power that Cleveland’s Big Chuck or Son of Ghoul have. Still, no really complaints about this. I managed to get in and meet him. I’m a big Horror Host fan and Sven is one of the most iconic ones of my generation.

 

New_100_6028 Of course the big reason I was heading her this year was the appearance of Barbie Wild and Nicholas Vince. I’m a huge Hellraiser fan fro mway back and I’ve been wanting to meet the cenobites for ages. I was shocked that they have hardly any line, and it was so exciting to finally shak hands with the Female and the Chatterer.

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One of the real fun events I made it to was the costume contest hosted by Svengoolie. Sven is such a quick wit and it the contestants really showed personality, not just costuming skills (like I tend to)

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Also the best photo of Richard Band EVER.

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I managed to have a nice time here, talking with a lot of interesting people in line and seeing some familiar faces like Reggie Bannister and Robert Kurtzman. Still, I don’t think I’ll be back to Flashback. In fact, I’m really considering dropping the larger conventions next year altogether. We’ll see. Cinema Wasteland and Akron Comicon are still to come!

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New shelves

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Okay…perhaps I’m pushing the definition of “art” here. Still, I’m very proud of this. You see, one of my large bookshelves collapsed. We had to replace it and I always get those build-it-yourself kits. Well Maddie inisisted on helping, and here she is building a bookshelf. A whole new kind of skill….

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The Iron Man project part eight

Iron Man

So now we need to make a torso, something that will slip under the chestplate . We start off with abs.

100_3988We take this beveled ab piece and attach it to a long piece of foam that will wrap around me, connecting to the other side of the beveled ab plate with velcro.

100_3989Time to add some ribbing. We start by scoring the abs with a razor in a tech pattern. Then we go over it in ink. Paint will sink into it but just a little of that ink will show through, creating an artificial shadow.

100_3990I’m digging in some canals and inserting real wires from a burnt out power supply here. Something to give patches of technical imagery and a kind of c-3po look.

100_3992A few more details on the back, some bling from a dead hard drive. I’ll paint more details on after we have a coat of red paint on here.

100_3994Wrapped around. It’ll be a littel snug ,but it’ll also push in some of my girth.

100_3995Almost ready for the breastplate! But first, I think we’ll tackle the shoulderpads next month.

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Not a review of Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie bannerguardians_poster_via_marvelI was aware of the movie of course, because of all the buzz, but it wasn’t one I was just waiting on pins and needles for.

In many ways I think I’m the target audience for it. People who might have heard something about this, but arn’t really familiar with it. I tried an issue or two of the comic when Bendis rebooted it a couple years ago, but nothing really grabbed me. I like the idea of the talking raccoon (a smart mouth funny animal character is one of my elements for a perfect sitcom formula) and I like Sci-Fi, but had nothing invested here.

There’s a million reviews for Guardians. There’s nothing I can add to those really. I  took my kids, Lydia’s favorite character was Groot – mostly because he spends the entire movie saying nothing but “I am Groot”. And Maddie loved Rocket. Yeah, nothing new here.

What I want to explore is why  this movie is important.

I like this because it’s sci-Fi without being SyFy. It’s not Star Trek or Star Wars. It’s not the gritty or nilistic attitude that we’ve seen in Sci-Fi for the last ten years or so (thanks for nothing Battlestar Galactica). It’s not Gravity or Edge of Tomorrow. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself to seriously while still going all in to the genre – and this is where you can see Gunn’s Troma roots. Say what you will about Troma, (and I hate ’em) but it’s one of the last places you can go in as nothing and truly advance by merit.  You can start off as a PA or a grip and end up a script supervisor or editor. That’s not an exaggeration, Joe Lynch did JUST that on Terror Firmer. It’s like New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Much like Roger Cormans studio, Troma is actually forging a generation of professionals despite (or perhaps because of ) working on drek. Gunn knows where to be serious and where to go completely zany, and if he can make you tear up at the image of a raccoon staring down at the charred branches of a tree – that’s something worth noting. This is original. Like nothing else in film today, because they remembered this is supposed to be a good time. They remembered that they cans still make you feel, when you’re having fun, it doesn’t need to be bleak and heavy to get that reaction.

It’s also a game changer.

There has been much written in reviews of how the Marvel brand is a proven one. Sure it is. But only with Superheroes.

Thor was a Sci-Fi movie, but with Superheros. So was Iron Man. And even though they were second stringers at the time (remember in the 90 and early 2000’s if it wasn’t an X-book or Spider book it was back bench), they were recognizable enough. Guardians is pure Sci-Fi. A shrew eye can catch the comic book dynamic – charismatic leader, sexy girl, smart mouth, a warrior, and a tank. Even so, it’s very Sci-Fi, with more in common with Firefly than the Avengers. It’s proof Marvel can do other things. What could happen next? Marvel Horror? Marvel Mystery? We’re getting a very Crime based set of shows hitting Netflix and it’s obvious Marvel want’s it’s brand to encompass more than just superheros. Guardians is the proof it can do so, and may be the key to surviving when the market gets oversaturated with superhero movies and the bubble inevitably breaks.

It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here.

Over at Violent Blue by the way, Steve took Jen to see the movie. We’ll be exploring their relationship against the backdrop of the film all week. Check it out here!